Thursday, August 12, 2010
A couple of weeks back I spotted a plastic box of pen nibs sitting in the "hands off" case at the thrift store. I wasn't able to get a close look, but the price was right, so I snatched 'em up, thinking there would be something I could do with them. Turns out they're all nibs for dip pens, essentially a step up from a quill pen, and can be used with ink that would hopelessly clog (read: ruin) the fine ink feed mechanism of a fountain pen.
Some of the nibs are the familiar Speedball sort that you can find in most craft places in a "drawing pen set", but others are Esterbrook or Gillott's, or some other brands that are hard to read without a magnifier. Interestingly, many of them are magnetic, though by design or accident I can't say. Few appear to have ever been used. There are numerous duplicates: nearly two sets of the Speedball, for example, and two or three of the same type of nib.
I've tried a couple out, even venturing to stick them into Murray the Frankenpen since the Sheaffer nib transplant didn't work out: it wiggles around like a loose tooth. To do this properly, I would need a holder -- actually several, as the sizes vary -- and then use them... for something. So far, all I've managed to do is get ink all over my hands and jab myself a few times with some of the sharper examples (note to self: make sure tetanus booster is up-to-date.)
I don't really have a use for them, and yet... I can't quite give them up. I'd like to find a purpose for these: maybe try my hand at making a basic holder out of dowel rods, or play with ink recipes with the kids, or something like that. What would you do?
Update: as usual, impatience got the best of me. The craft store was a bust for just plain old holders, unless I wanted more nibs and a tiny bottle of ink to go with it (I didn't.) I scrounged around for a while, looking for a substitute, and considered buying a couple of paintbrushes to behead, but settled on a small package of craft corks. I used the "leather awl" tool on my pocketknife to dig out a little hole in the middle of the narrow end and slipped a nib inside.
It's a little awkward to write with, but the wide flare of the cork gives me enough to hold onto for testing. I'm surprised at how much ink even the plainest nib holds: I was expecting to need to re-dip every word or two, but I can go for a sentence or more between dips. Now it's a matter of me getting used to the extra-light hand required to write with one of these. I'll keep my eyes open for old pen sets, or otherwise unencumbered nib holders, and I'll have to hit up the art supply store and see what they offer.